By BILL HETHERMAN
LOS ANGELES – Attorneys for Black Lives Matter demonstrators who were confronted at gunpoint by the late husband of former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey at the Laceys’ Granada Hills home in 2020 are not entitled to a second deposition of the county’s former top prosecutor, Lacey’s lawyers argue in new court papers.
The BLM lawyers maintain Lacey, on the direction of her attorney, wrongfully refused to answer some questions based on the spousal communication privilege during her first deposition. They maintain that a crime-fraud exception to the privilege applies if a communication was made, in whole or in part, to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit a crime or a fraud.
But in court papers filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Lacey’s lawyers state that none of the deposition questions objected to by Lacey’s attorney were directed at statements Lacey allegedly made to enable or aid her spouse, David Lacey, in committing or planning to commit a crime
“Rather, the questions posed to Mrs. Lacey concerned confidential spousal communications about topics such as whether Mr. Lacey expressed concerns for his safety or remorse for his conduct, firearm and firearm safety unrelated to the incident and conduct or statements after the incident had already occurred,” Lacey’s attorneys state in their court papers.
During her deposition, Lacey explained she was upstairs and out of the sight line of her front door during the entire incident, Lacey’s attorneys state in their court papers.
“In response to numerous questions, she confirmed that she had no knowledge of or involvement in the interaction on her porch between her husband and the protesters,” Lacey’s attorneys state in their court papers.
Lacey’s lawyers further note in their court papers that the plaintiffs do not allege that Lacey came to the front door or that she was present during the interaction.
“Rather, plaintiffs allege … that Mrs. Lacey aided and abetted Mr. Lacey’s decision to cock, load and then point the handgun directly at plaintiffs” and that both Lacey’s negligently failed to look at their Ring app, where they would have seen that the visitors were “simply unarmed peaceful protesters,” Lacey’s lawyers state in their court papers.
The suit also alleges false imprisonment by the 65-year-old Lacey. The confrontation occurred when members of the group showed up at the couple’s residence the morning of March 2, 2020.
Melina Abdullah, Dahlia Ferlito and Justin Marks brought the complaint the Laceys in October 2020, claiming they suffered emotional distress from the incident.
In their court papers brought Dec. 14, lawyers for the BLM protesters say the Laceys were aware the demonstrators were there to confront her and not her husband. Jackie Lacey also knew, or should have known, that confronting uninvited guests at her front door with a loaded firearm was unlawful, the BLM lawyers state in their court papers.
“Surely neither Mr. Lacey or Mrs. Lacey believe that have a right to confront and threaten those uninvited visitors with a loaded firearm,” the BLM lawyers state in their court papers. “And in doing so, it is reasonable that Mr. and Mrs. Lacey communicated about who would confront the protesters, how they would be confronted and what they would do after the confrontation. All of those communications are relevant, unprivileged and necessary to show Mrs. Lacey’s compliance and whether she aided and abetted her husband in the assault of plaintiffs.”
For several years, protesters, including members of Black Lives Matter, gathered sometimes in the hundreds outside the Hall of Justice, where Lacey’s office was located, every Wednesday to protest against Lacey, she says, adding they came with signs, noise-amplifiers and drums and chanted slogans such as, “Bye, Jackie” and “Jackie Lacey Must Go.”
A hearing on the BLM protester motion to compel Lacey’s second deposition is scheduled Jan. 6 before Judge Theresa M. Traber. The BLM attorneys also have filed separate court papers seeking to substitute the estate of Lacey’s husband, David Lacey, as a defendant. David Lacey died Sept. 5.
Plaintiff Abdullah is a professor and former chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles and a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter. She and other BLM demonstrators went to the Laceys’ home seeking to confront her for allegedly refusing to meet with them to discuss issues of community concern.
In her deposition, portions of which are attached to Lacey’s court papers, Abdullah says that “everyone was stunned” after David Lacey pointed the weapon at them.
” So, I don’t recall what everyone else was doing,” Abdullah says. “I only recall some of what I was doing. But having a gun pulled on me and told that `I’ll shoot you, I don’t care who you are,’ kind of threw off my energy.”
Lacey was criticized by Abdullah and other activists for declining to prosecute some law enforcement officers involved in fatal on-duty shootings during her two terms in office.
David Lacey opened the door after the plaintiffs rang the bell and video images show him pointing a gun and saying he would shoot if the visitors did not get off his porch.
The encounter occurred a day before Lacey — the first woman and first Black prosecutor to hold the top post since the office was created in 1850 – – was forced into a runoff with former San Francisco County District Attorney George Gascón, who ultimately was elected.
David Lacey was charged by the California Attorney General’s Office with three misdemeanor counts of assault with a firearm, but in May 2021 San Fernando Superior Court Judge David Stuart allowed him to enter an 18-month diversion program to resolve the case, noting that he was a “67-year-old man who has led an otherwise exemplary, productive life.”
The judge also noted that there was a “unique politically charged situation that’s unlikely to recur again.”
The misdemeanor case was dismissed against David Lacey in May.